It's No Joke: Colbert Boosts Democracy

New book blasts talk shows but hails political satire
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2008 6:42 PM CDT
Hillary Clinton appearing on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno."   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – Political satire that "means it" is missing from late-night TV, Russell L. Peterson argues in his new book, Strange Bedfellows: How Late-Night Comedy Turns Democracy Into a Joke. In Salon, Louis Bayard applauds Bedfellows for advancing a "decidedly moral argument," even if it undervalues Conan O'Brien and tenders some tired complaints about society. Where Peterson gets it right, Bayard writes, is in hailing Stephen Colbert.

While Leno and Letterman “keep finding ways to tell us what we already ‘know’ about politicians," Colbert and his band of cable brothers—Jon Stewart and Bill Maher—lace biting commentary with faith in democracy. "Pseudo satire, by contrast, is often embraced and even co-opted by its purported victims," Bayard writes.